A pheromone-induced mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway controls mating in fungi by regulating gene transcription. In the opportunistic fungus Pneumocystis carinii, we have identified a protein containing a high-mobility group (HMG) motif which is homologous to the transcriptional activators STE11 of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and STE12 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In fungi, this transcriptional activator functions in sexual development, filamentous growth, and pathogenicity. The fungal pheromone-activated MAPK phosphorylates the transcriptional activator to allow binding to pheromone-response elements in the promoter regions of certain genes. We have previously identified a P. carinii MAPK, PCM, which has significant homology to fungal MAPKs involved in mating. As an initial step in understanding the downstream molecules which interact with the PCM kinase, we have cloned a STE11 homologue in P. carinii. PCSTE11 has an open-reading frame of 1.5 kb which encodes a protein of 501 amino acids with a molecular weight of 56 kDa. Greatest homology was to S. pombe STE11 (52%). We have expressed a His-tag fusion of PCSTE11 and purified the protein with nickel affinity resin. PCM phosphorylates the purified protein indicating that PCSTE11 is associated with the MAPK cascade in P. carinii.
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- HMG-box protein
- Mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK)
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